BOSTON -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask returned to practice Monday and is confident he'll be in the lineup when the Bruins, who have a two-point lead in the race for second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, host the Nashville Predators at TD Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, SNO, TVA Sports, NESN, FS-TN, NHL.TV).
"Good day back on the ice. Feel good," said Rask, who didn't play in the Bruins' 2-1 defeat of the New York Islanders on Saturday because of a lower-body injury. Anton Khudobin started and made 18 saves, and Zane McIntyre was recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League to be the backup.
The win ended a four-game losing streak (0-4-0) and moved the Bruins two points ahead of Islanders for the second wild card. The Bruins lead the Tampa Bay Lightning by three points and the Carolina Hurricanes by five points, but the Islanders and Lightning have a game in hand while Carolina has two. All three teams play Monday.
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Rask, who was a full participant in practice Monday and stayed out for extra work, said he regretted missing the game Saturday, but said he wasn't in any shape to play.
"You got to put the best lineup out possible." he said. "So it's never an easy decision this time of year [to sit out]. But I've played a lot of hockey and injuries happen and I talked with the training staff and managers and we came to the decision that we're just going to play the game [without me] and that's it.
"So we played a good game and good we got the win. It's obviously tough from a personal standpoint but it's never about one guy or two guys missing. It's a team game. So I had full confidence in everybody that we were going to get the job done as long as we played the way we did and it was great to see."
Khudobin is 5-0-0 with a .920 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average in six games since Feb. 11, but coach Bruce Cassidy insisted Monday that Rask, who is 3-6-0 in nine games in March, will play when healthy.
"[Rask] is our No. 1 goalie, so we're not skirting around that issue," Cassidy said. "He's our No. 1 and his health is very important. When he's physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we'll make a decision. The one practice, he feels good and that's a big positive for us."
While Rask was working his way back into shape, center David Krejci left practice because of an upper-body injury. Cassidy was optimistic Krejci would be available against the Predators.
"He's got a bit of an upper-body issue, a little discomfort. He got treatment," Cassidy said. "I believe he'll be fine [Tuesday]. I don't think it's anything major, but again, I can't speculate."